The Lost City Of Z: A Tale Of Deadly Obsession In The Amazon

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The Lost City Of Z: A Tale Of Deadly Obsession In The Amazon

by David Grann

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | January 26, 2010 | Trade Paperback |

4.5 out of 5 rating. 6 Reviews
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A New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and Denver Post Bestseller
 
In 1925, the legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon jungle, in search of a fabled civilization. He never returned. Over the years countless perished trying to find evidence of his party and the place he called "The Lost City of Z." In this masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, journalist David Grann interweaves the spellbinding stories of Fawcett's quest for "Z" and his own journey into the deadly jungle, as he unravels the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 448 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.79 in

Published: January 26, 2010

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1400078458

ISBN - 13: 9781400078455

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– More About This Product –

The Lost City Of Z: A Tale Of Deadly Obsession In The Amazon

The Lost City Of Z: A Tale Of Deadly Obsession In The Amazon

by David Grann

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 448 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.79 in

Published: January 26, 2010

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1400078458

ISBN - 13: 9781400078455

About the Book

After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, acclaimed "New Yorker" writer Grann sets out to solve "the greatest exploration mystery of the 20th century: what happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest for the Lost City of Z?

Read from the Book

1 WE SHALL RETURN On a cold January day in 1925, a tall, distinguished gentleman hurried across the docks in Hoboken, New Jersey, toward the S.S. Vauban, a five-hundred-and-eleven-foot ocean liner bound for Rio de Janeiro. He was fifty-seven years old, and stood over six feet, his long arms corded with muscles. Although his hair was thinning and his mustache was flecked with white, he was so fit that he could walk for days with little, if any, rest or nourishment. His nose was crooked like a boxer''s, and there was something ferocious about his appearance, especially his eyes. They were set close together and peered out from under thick tufts of hair. No one, not even his family, seemed to agree on their color-some thought they were blue, others gray. Yet virtually everyone who encountered him was struck by their intensity: some called them "the eyes of a visionary." He had frequently been photographed in riding boots and wearing a Stetson, with a rifle slung over his shoulder, but even in a suit and a tie, and without his customary wild beard, he could be recognized by the crowds on the pier. He was Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, and his name was known throughout the world. He was the last of the great Victorian explorers who ventured into uncharted realms with little more than a machete, a compass, and an almost divine sense of purpose. For nearly two decades, stories of his adventures had captivated the public''s imagination: how he had survived in the South Ame
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From the Publisher

A New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and Denver Post Bestseller
 
In 1925, the legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon jungle, in search of a fabled civilization. He never returned. Over the years countless perished trying to find evidence of his party and the place he called "The Lost City of Z." In this masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, journalist David Grann interweaves the spellbinding stories of Fawcett's quest for "Z" and his own journey into the deadly jungle, as he unravels the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century.

From the Jacket

"David Grann's The Lost City of Z is a deeply satisfying revelation-a look into the life and times of one of the last great territorial explorers, P. H. Fawcett, and his search for a lost city in the Amazon. I mean, what could be better-obsession, mystery, deadly insects, shrunken heads, suppurating wounds, hostile tribesmen-all for us to savor in our homes, safely before the fire."-Erik Larson, author of Thunderstruck, Devil in the White Cit,y and Isaac's Storm

"Few things are better than experiencing a horrendous adventure from the comfort of your own armchair. Hordes of mosquitoes, poison-arrow attacks, bizarre and fatal diseases, spies in starched collars, hidden outposts of Atlantis -- what's not to like? The Lost City of Z is like a wonderful nineteenth-century tale of exotic danger -- except that David Grann's book is also a sensitively written biographical detective story, a vest-pocket history of exploration, and a guide to the new archaeological research that is exploding our preconceptions of the Amazon and its peoples." -Charles Mann, author of 1491

"The story of Z goes to the heart of the central questions of our age. In the battle between man and a hostile environment, who wins? A fascinating and brilliant book."-Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point

"With this riveting work, David Grann emerges on our national landscape as a major new talent. His superb writing style, his skills as a reporter, his masterful use of historical and scientific documents, and his stunning storytelling ability are on full display here, producing an endlessly absorbing tale about a magical subject that captivates from start to finish. This is a terrific book."-Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals

"What a wild and adventurous life! In the deft storytelling hands of David Grann, explorer Percy Fawcett emerges as one of the most ambitious, colorful, just plain intrepid figures ever to set foot in the New World. Part Indiana Jones, part Livingstone, and part Kit Carson, Fawcett has found his perfect biographer in Grann, who has gamely endured every conceivable Amazonian hardship to piece together the story of this British swashbuckler and his crazed search for a vanished civilization."- Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers

"David Grann takes the reader on an extraordinary journey that snakes through expeditionary archives and ends deep in the Amazonian forest. The Lost City of Z is a gripping tale of a lost world and of the magnificent obsession of those who have sought it." -Caroline Alexander, author of The Bounty and The Endurance

"The Amazon has had many chroniclers but few who can match David Grann's grasp of history, science, and especially narrative. Shifting seamlessly between the past and present, The Lost City of Z is a riveting, totally absorbing real-life adventure story."-Nathaniel Philbrick, author of Mayflower and In the Heart of the Sea

"A fantastic story of courage, obsession, and mystery, The Lost City of Z is gripping from beginning to end. In the pantheon of classic exploration tales, this stands out as one of the best." -Candice Millard, author The River of Doubt

"A wonderfully researched true story about an intrepid adventurer, a colorful cast, and an obsession that grips both him and the author."-Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein

About the Author

DAVID GRANN is a longtime staff writer at The New Yorker. He has written about everything from New York City's antiquated water tunnels to the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, from the hunt for the giant squid to the mysterious death of the world's greatest Sherlock Holmes expert. His stories have appeared in several Best American writing anthologies, and he has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic. A collection of his stories, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, will be published in spring 2010.

Editorial Reviews

“Suspenseful. . . . Rollicking. . . . Reads with all the pace and excitement of a movie thriller. . . . The Lost City of Z is at once a biography, a detective story and a wonderfully vivid piece of travel writing that combines Bruce Chatwinesque powers of observation with a Waugh-like sense of the absurd. Mr. Grann treats us to a harrowing reconstruction of Fawcett’s forays into the Amazonian jungle, as well as an evocative rendering of the vanished age of exploration.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times   “Breathtaking. . . . Grann brings Fawcett’s remarkable story to a beautifully written, perfectly paced fruition. . . . Any writer who can breathe life into letters written by scientists in the early 1900s deserves more than a hat tip.” — The Los Angeles Times   “Brilliant. . . . Impressively researched and skillfully crafted. . . . Grann makes abundantly clear in this fascinating, epic story of exploration and obsession, [that] the lethal attraction of the Amazon mystery remains strong.” — The Boston Globe   “A smart biographical page-turner.” — USA Today   “Grann escapes death and tracks down Z, giving the reader the kind of Indiana Jones kicks best experienced vicariously.” — Details   “A riveting, exciting and thoroughly compelling tale of adventure.” —John Grisham   “Thoroughly researched, vividly told. . . . Gran
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Bookclub Guide

US

1. Books about explorers, adventurers, and extreme risk-takers like Jon Krakauer's Eiger Dreams and Into the Wild, Caroline Alexander's The Endurance, Joe Simpson's Touching the Void, Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea, Sebastian Junger's A Perfect Storm, and many others, have become extremely popular in recent years. What are the appeals of such books? What qualities does The Lost City of Z share with books of this kind? In what ways does it differ from them?

2. After time away from the jungle, Fawcett wrote: "Inexplicably-amazingly-I knew I loved that hell. Its fiendish grasp had captured me, and I wanted to see it again" [p. 116]. What drove Fawcett to plunge himself again and again into the dangers of the Amazon? What is the main force that drives him-obsession with finding the lost city, desire to prove himself against his competitors, a need to escape the confines of civilization, a spiritual quest?

3. In what ways is Fawcett a symbolic figure? What values does he embody? In what ways does he represent many of both the best and worst qualities of the British Empire?

4. Grann notes that some anthropologists and historians consider Fawcett's view of the Indians enlightened for his era while others saw him as unable to transcend the prevailing racism of his own culture. How does he regard the Indians he encounters? How does he treat them?

5. How do Fawcett's expeditions affect his wife Nina? How does she see her role in relation to him? In what ways does she succumb to his obsessions?

6. In what ways does The Lost City of Z challenge conventional views of the Amazon? What does it suggest about the current state of archeological research in the region?

7. What are some of the most fascinating and/or dreadful features of the Amazon jungle revealed in The Lost City of Z? How has the jungle been changed since Europeans first made contact with it?

8. What does The Lost City of Z reveal about the power of obsession? In what ways does Fawcett's obsession draw others into its deadly gravitational pull?  

9. By what means does Grann maintain such a high level of suspense throughout the book? What does the interweaving of his own story-the story of his search for the truth about what happened to Fawcett and the story of his writing of the book itself-add to the total effect of The Lost City of Z?

10. After witnessing the mass carnage of World War I, Fawcett exclaims: "Civilization! Ye gods! To see what one has seen the word is an absurdity. It has been an insane explosion of the lowest human emotions" [p. 189]. In what ways does The Lost City of Z call into question conventional notions of civilization? What does it suggest about the supposed differences between advanced and primitive cultures?

11. What are Percy Harrison's Fawcett's most admirable qualities? What aspects of his character prove most troubling? Was James Murray right in accusing Fawcett of all but murdering him? [p. 139]. 

12. Near the end of the book, Grann writes about how biographers are often driven mad by the inability to fully comprehend their subjects. Of his own quest he says: "The finished story of Fawcett seemed to reside eternally beyond the horizon: a hidden metropolis of words and paragraphs, my own Z" [p. 303]. How well does Grann succeed in discovering and revealing the truth of Percy Fawcett?

13. Does Grann's meeting with the anthropologist Michael Heckenberger in Kurikulo village confirm Fawcett's belief in a lost ancient civilization? Is Fawcett's search vindicated at last?


(For a complete list of available reading group guides, and to sign up for the Reading Group Center enewsletter, visit www.readinggroupcenter.com)

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